It’s been said before and it must be said again, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just can’t help himself when it comes to backup quarterback Tony Romo.
And in that respect he continues to work against the best interest of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and his beloved football team.
It was cute the past few weeks when Jones showed his love and affection for Romo by constantly talking him up in the media.
The Cowboys were in the midst of a franchise-record winning streak. Prescott was still playing well.
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It was seemingly no harm, no foul for Jones to offer up bouquets of compliments to Romo.
But now things are different.
While the Cowboys are still sitting atop the NFC with an 11-2 mark, Prescott has hit a rough patch, as all quarterbacks do, most notably rookie quarterbacks.
The fourth-round pick was awful in the 10-7 loss to the New York Giants Sunday, completing 17 of 37 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He had only been intercepted twice in the first 12 games. Prescott also had a season-low passer rating of 45.4.
It was his third consecutive game with less than 200 yards passing, though his season stats of 20 touchdowns with four interceptions remains sterling.
Yet again, the Cowboys are 11-2 and still control their destiny for the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs heading into the final three games.
To that end, Prescott needs all the support he can get from inside and outside the organization.
It’s Prescott who needs Jones’ love and praises now.
But rather than offer unequivocal public confidence for his precocious rookie that the organization entrusted with the keys to the kingdom, Jones continued his lovefest for Romo on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan Tuesday.
It’s not so much what he did say, but what he didn’t say.
Unlike coach Jason Garrett, who was definitive in declaring that Prescott was the quarterback of the Cowboys when pressed about a quarterback change, Jones allowed that there were possible scenarios.
“I don’t have a definition for it, but you’ll know it when you see it,” Jones said. “It’s kind of like a definition I heard one time of another issue, trying to define a negative topic. They said, ‘I don’t know how to say it, but it’s just something that when you see it, you know it’s there.’ We’ll see it.”
Does Jones have an idea what they are?
“You don’t want either of those to occur, so they’re unmentionables,” Jones said. “But it’ll be pretty obvious that when you see it with Romo sitting there and playing at the level that he’s playing right now, practicing at the level he’s practicing, got the experience … We’re going into these last three games as well as the playoffs, we’re really going into it in good shape, good depth at quarterback.”
It goes without saying, that the Cowboys have a viable backup in Romo and if Prescott gets hurt they believe he can win games for them.
That’s the public stance for any backup on any team, but more so in Dallas with the team’s all-time leading passer on the sideline.
But because it’s the fishbowl that is the Cowboys, by merely suggesting that there other unmentionable ways that Romo could find his way onto the field outside of injury, Jones has opened an exploding can of worms inside the shiny new locker room.
Thanks to Jones, the Cowboys are going into the last three games with a rookie quarterback looking over his shoulder at a veteran quarterback who hasn’t played in more than a year.
And while Romo has looked great in practice, we are still “talking about practice” to quote Allen Iverson.
The real issue for the 36-year old Romo is games. He hasn’t faced live bullets. He hasn’t been hit. And it goes without saying that the past six times he’s touched the field, he’s left three times with a broken bone.
Outside of the hot hand, those are factors the Cowboys considered when they handed the starting job to Prescott in the first place.
And they can’t be ignored now.
But while Jones doesn’t feel a need to walk on egg shells about the quarterback situation, it’s also something he doesn’t need to discuss at every turn.
If the Cowboys bench Prescott after a couple of bad games, then they shouldn’t have stuck with him in the first place.
This was a decision for this season as well as the future. It’s not one the Cowboys should abandon at the first sign of trouble.
Yet, Jones can’t help himself by trumping up Romo and setting up Prescott for failure.
Chemistry be damned.